Virtual Kollage: The political organization of the Vai ethnic group of Liberia

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The political organization of the Vai ethnic group of Liberia


THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION OF THE VAI OF LIBERIA
Introduction
The Vai ethnic group mainly inhabits the Republic of Liberia, though some of them can also be found in the south-eastern parts of Sierra Leone. They speak the Van language. It is believed that in the middle of the 16th century, the invasions undertaken by the then Malian Empire, drove the Vai from their original home to their present location.

POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
Head of Chiefdom
The Vai had four Chiefdoms, Kone, Tombe, Tewu and Gawula; each of them was headed by a chief.

Clan Chief (Zii)
The next level of political authority was the Clan Chief. He was the seniormost male descendant of the patrilineage of the original founder of the clan.

Town Chief (Sanj Mamjah)
Each clan was subdivided into towns and each town was headed by a Town Chief.

Head of Lineage
Within each town were lineages. The Vai traced their lineage through the father line, so each lineage was headed by the most senior member within that lineage. Though this was not a particularly recognized political authority, the head of the lineage ensured peaceful co-existence among the members. He settled disputes that arose.

SAMPLE QUESTION
1. Describe the political organization of the pre-independent era of the Vai ethnic group in Liberia.

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